Pause

When people think about church, they usually do not think about suffering. Some may think about hymns or prayers. Some may think about a place that cares. Some may even think about a boring old building filled with out of touch people.

What if, when we thought about church, we remembered a young woman from the 3rd century, Saint Perpetua, who believed in a loving God with such faith that she chose to be tortured and put to death rather than recant her belief?

Would we look at those old buildings differently?

Take a moment today to think about faith and church differently, and consider how many have suffered and continue to suffer so that we may worship and serve Christ.

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Listen

When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have. Without losing faith, Abraham, who was nearly 100 years old, took into account his own body, which was as good as dead, and Sarah’s womb, which was dead. He didn’t hesitate with a lack of faith in God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith and gave glory to God. He was fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised. Therefore, it was credited to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:18-22

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Think

In Romans we hear Paul’s recounting of the Abraham and Sarah story. Paul reminds us of Abraham and Sarah’s age and how close they were to death and how Sarah’s womb is dead. The Bible is full of unlikely heroes.

You would think the strong would win, the smart would excel, and the rich would be worshiped. In the Bible, though, it doesn’t work like this most of the time. The strong seem to fail, like Goliath. The weak are the ones to prevail. Moses is a bad speaker and is the spokesperson of God. Abraham and Sarah are old, yet they become the parents of many nations. Those who suffer become the heroes. Perhaps this is why we like an underdog. The message is a powerful one.

Do you think you are small, poor, or your grades are not as good as those around you? Guess what. God wants you to lead. It is your weaknesses that God cherishes. Strange, right? But that is what makes you human, created by God.

Stephen Mazingo

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Pray

God, are you choosing me to be a leader? You have blessed me with gifts greater than any worldly desire, the gifts of love and grace. Help me to use these gifts in your service. Amen.

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Go

Be a comfort to those who are suffering. Take time to have compassion, as Christ has compassion for us. Let the sacrifices of many and the passion of the faithful be your guide and strength. Go into the world.

Stephen Mazingo

Stephen Mazingo was born in Jacksonville, NC. He attended his church youth program and diocese events, and it was through these experiences that he decided to pursue the track to priesthood. After graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary, Stephen served his first post as a missionary of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Matlosane, South Africa. Stephen then served as Associate Rector at St. James Parish in Wilmington, NC from 2008 to 2012, and was called to St. Peter’s in Fernandina Beach, FL in January 2013.

Wondrous Love: O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

Mark Hayes - markhayes.com

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